June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
4 months ago

Boehner plans lawsuit against Obama over executive orders

Updated 3:15 p.m. ET, 6/25/14

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday told reporters that he plans to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive action.

"I am," the Speaker said when asked if he was planning to initiate a lawsuit.

"You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws," Boehner added at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Boehner announced later Wednesday that in July he would bring a bill to the House floor authorizing a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to file the lawsuit against the President. He last convened the group in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

The group is made up of the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders.

In a memo to House members announcing next month's vote, Boehner indicated the legal action would cover a number of issues but did not cite specific cases of executive overreach.

"On matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators, straining the boundaries of the solemn oath he took on Inauguration Day,' the memo said.

The Speaker denied that the move was about energizing Republicans ahead the midterm elections.

"This is about defending the institution in which we serve. If you look back over the past 235 years of our history there's been movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch vs the inherent powers of the legislative branch and what we've seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch," the Speaker said in response to a question from CNN.

Republicans argue that the President is breaching his constitutional power by side-stepping the legislative process. Obama has used executive actions as a way to bypass a deeply divided Congress, avoiding inaction on issues the White House has made hallmarks of the President's second term agenda.

So far, the Republican-controlled House has passed two bills aimed at curbing executive orders by the President, neither of which have gone anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House responded Wednesday to Boehner's plans to bring a lawsuit against the President, pointing the blame at the GOP for uncompromising opposition to Obama's policies.

"For a long time we have seen Republicans block progress in Congress, a range of bills that would promote economic strength but in this case it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear," spokesman Josh Earnest said at the White House press briefing.

"Frankly, it's a gear I didn't know previously existed.'

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday called the lawsuit "a subterfuge" and said Republicans in Congress are "doing nothing" and "they have to give some aura of activity."

Pelosi said the House GOP effort to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court wasted $2.3 million in taxpayer money, and said "here we go again."

Obama has used his executive authority to push through a number of issues. Most recently, he directed the Department of Labor to extend family leave to same-sex couples. Previously, he raised the minimum wage for federal contractors and halt deportations for many children in the United States illegally.

Rank and file House Republicans have been pushing for months for top GOP leaders to file a lawsuit.

Conservative Republicans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority – citing the series of changes that the Obama has made on his own to tweak the implementation of Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans, fueled by anger from their grassroots supporters, also argued it was time to explore legal action when the President began saying in January that he had a “pen and a phone” and would take action on key priorities if Congress failed to move legislation.

One avenue Boehner could take is to convene a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group - something he did in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Since there is only a day and a half left before Congress heads out for a week long recess, the lawsuit is not expected to be filed until next month. The lawmakers who make up the group – the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders – will have to meet and vote – and – that isn’t expected to happen until after Congress gets back from 4th of July break.

Boehner just so happened to be with the President on Tuesday, along with Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House to meet with members of the 2013 U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams. And the mood didn't seem to be too tense between the House leader and the commander-in-chief, given reports of Boehner's possible lawsuit.

Obama joked: "I'm joined by two of my favorite golf partners, the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner."

Commissioner Tim Finchem jokingly said that he's been keeping track of who criticizes the President about his golf game, and Boehner was not among his critics.

"The only thing that he doesn't criticize me about," the President added, to laughs.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

soundoff (838 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    Why doesn't Boehner consider actually earning his public-sector paycheck by DOING SOMETHING FOR THE COUNTRY?

    June 24, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. ZuluAlpha

    Excuse me. Isn't that the right and privilege of the office of president. What would Boehner's reaction be if the president were of his party? I'll bet there'd be hell to pay if a democrat made the same statement.

    June 24, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. Observer

    If Boehner thought Obama's actions were really wrong, he'd try to impeach him. But he knows deep down that Obama is staying within the limits of his executive powers.

    June 24, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. jboh

    True TEA/GOP. No GOP complaint when Bush was issuing exec. signing orders calling laws passed by congress suggestions. Nothing is new here. When one of their's is pres., prez is king. When one of the other side is prez., congress is king. Flip flopping hypocrits.

    June 24, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. Hugo

    It is called an Impeachment Mr. Weeper of the House. Grow a pair you panzy ass kook, had you done your job we wouldn't be in the mess we are now!

    June 24, 2014 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. Leftcoastrocky

    George Bush – 291 Barrack Obama – 180. Ronald Reagan – 381.

    Executive Actions

    June 24, 2014 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Russ

    It's amazing how many times Bush used executive orders during his two terms and nothing from bone head then. If congress (Republicans) would quit blocking everything the President and Democrats put to the house there would be no need for this. What a bunch of cry babies. If you don't play my way I'll take my ball and go home or in this case sue you.

    June 24, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    If you won't even listen, let alone attempt to cooperate, he has every right to step over you. All other Presidents have done the same.

    But for some reason, they don't want this POTUS to have the same rights as the previous ones. For the life of me, I can't think of why??😗😗

    June 24, 2014 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Bill

    And congress has a clear record of ignoring the will of the American people. So what is the Speaker's issue?

    June 24, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I'm just wondering if CNN will post the number of times EACH POTUS since St. Ronnie has used Executive Orders? Is that asking too much? Maybe showing both sides of the equation instead of making it seem as if President Obama has abused his privilege. I guarantee he has used his the least.

    June 24, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    It must be election time if the GOP is filing pointless lawsuits over things they would do themselves, given half the chance.

    June 24, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    Like most Americans, I think republicans are disgusting and vile.

    June 24, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. MaryM

    Boehner is looking more foolish than Issa. What fools these repubs are!!

    June 24, 2014 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Tappy Mcwidestance

    Republicans really don't have a clue do they. How long have Republicans Presidents been using executive orders? How many "signing statements" did W use to "interpret" the laws Congress passed the way he wanted to do.

    June 24, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. Marie MD

    Hey bo ner, while you're at it:
    Nixon 346
    Ford 169
    Demigod Reagan 381
    Bush#41 166
    Shrub #43 291
    Obama as of 1/20/14 168
    Your orange head would have exploded for the following:
    T Roosevelt 1081
    Coolidge 1293
    F Roosevelt 3522 yes, you can now go have a smoke and a whole bottle of Scotch!
    Keep at it. The more you hate on Obama the more the country sees that it has nothing to do with race even if Obama is a twice elected president who swiped the floor with your party in 2008 and 2012.
    You're disgusting in so many ways.

    June 24, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  16. American Worker

    Return the Executive Branch to its limited role of being the impartial and inclusive executor of our Laws and Regulations.

    End the Racketeering by the Elitist that have perverted the Executive Branch.

    June 24, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. joe

    after reading this article and listening to fox news i decided to do my own research and check the facts regarding executive orders. what i found out according to history and independent information is that many US presidents have signed far more executive orders then president obama including several republican presidents like reagan and ford to name a few. if the GOP claims obama is a "king" or" fascist" for the number of executive orders he has signed then what does it make the GOP presidents who far exceed obama's numbers? goes to show you, never believe everything you hear, especially from fox news..

    June 24, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. small sonkarlay

    They can go sue tomorrow morning and the American people will sue them for not doing their jobs

    June 24, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. Iab

    What a TRAVESTY, a disgrace to our nation and the world. The GOP/TP/Boehner and company took an oath Jan. 09 to block or say NO to everything Obama has tried or wants to do for ALL OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS regardless of skin color, sex, religion, etc. Obama has kept the agreement Bush made with Iraq, left Iraq now the haters want to impeach him for that. Obama has brought an American home who has fought for this country, was held prisoner, the haters want to impeach him for that. Obama has used EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE less than any other POTUS and now the HATERS WANT TO IMPEACH him for that. They know better but this is just their way of NOT doing what is necessary for the working/middle class Americans. Americans want jobs, stiffer gun controls, clean air, water, and land. This is a game the republicans are playing each hour everyday so they won't have to do a dam thing for the 98% of Americans they were sent to Washington to serve. I have been on this planet for over 80 yrs and I can see what is going on. Obama is a WONDERFUL PRESIDENT, wise, knowledgeable, intelligent, knows what is going on, knows the ones who constantly stab him in the back. These old, old haters just CAN'T STAND for an African American to be POTUS, that's all it is.

    Weak, immature, insecure, racists always blame others for their choices, actions, mistakes, this way they DON'T HAVE TO LOOK AT THEMSELVES.

    When will the less informed, less educated Americans STOP voting against their own self interest. Too many thinks it denotes status, wealth, that they have arrived when they identify with the republicans. What they don't know is MORE of them receive food stamps, unemployment than Americans of color, foreign born. I feel sorry for you haters b/c you are American Citizens, if you DON'T GROSS over $250K annually you are in the same boat as the Americans of color. Just remember the GOP/TP use you, don't care anymore about you than they do people of color.

    June 24, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  20. king

    Boener if you was doing your job and stop sucking up to the tea party. Who is trying to shut governme down. Maybe the president wouldnt be forced to use executive orders so much.

    June 24, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  21. Walter

    Go for it Boehner I will be happy when it happens...

    June 24, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  22. Pander Bear

    But it was OK when Bush did it.

    June 24, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. Liz the First

    How pathetic! he won't govern and he won't let Obama govern. what part of 'the republicans lost in 2012' does Bo(eh)ner not understand??? his party's actions since '08 have been nothing short of treasonous. Obama has managed to drag this country back from the brink of utter disaster in the face of overwhelming, mindless opposition. Boehner and his whole party should be sent to their beloved Gitmo to rot.

    June 24, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. Smitty

    Go for it, also go after Holder, the IRS , the house and the Senate. the whole freaking crew is nothing more than human waste both sides, Starting with the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR !!!

    June 24, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. S. B. Stein

    Then why didn't he do something like with George W. Bush? Why didn't the teapublicans do that with George W. Bush and his various bloated spending bills? This makes no sense to me.

    June 24, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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